Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer Service in Panama

It's not often you supply food to an island of indigenous people who actually need it.

And by "actually," we mean that even a home full of fifteen orphans did not have anything to eat last Saturday the 19th until eight Girl Scouts and their two instructors arrived with bags of food.

Two weekends ago, Girl Scouts Underwater Explorers students - with their Costa Rica Outward Bound instructors Mariana and Erin - completed a meaningful service project in Panama.

"It's amazing that people live that way.... maybe we shouldn't complain as much as we do about small stuff," one of the Girl Scouts reflected after completing the project.

The group packed bags of food (including rice and lentils) at our base camp on Isla Solarte located in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. After spending 1-2 hours organizing hundreds of food packets, they took a boat taxi to Tierras Obscuras (meaning "dark lands") to deliver them to homes and schools. This is when they met the woman with fifteen hungry orphans. They also met some of the locals and observed the classroom settings. It had a profound effect on them, and they spent the afternoon discussing it.

This will not be the end of our community service in this region.  When other Costa Rica Outward Bound courses head to Panama this summer, we hope to help by supplying fresh water to some of the islands.  Scott Brown, our Associate Program Director, has been coordinating projects with Operation Safe Drinking Water which organizes projects for delivering water tanks and building fresh drinking water systems in areas where inhabitants are drinking dirty water and getting sick.  Students' jobs will be to help install rain catchment tanks for indigenous schools and villages in order to catch, store and share the pure rainfall.

We are excited to have found another way to integrate Community & Service, one of our core value elements, into the courses' Panama Phases.  Pura vida!

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